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The Dangers of Sports Brain
Neurodegenerative Conditions & Sports

Mounting Evidence of the Link

Thousands of European football players have chronic traumatic encephalopathy. How can the development of neurodegenerative conditions be avoided? An observational study in Lancet followed professional Swedish footballers. Over 6000 players were matched with over 56,000 controls. Findings include:

  • Diagnosed with neurodegenerative disease: 9% of footballers, 6.2% of controls
  • Risk of neurodegenerative disease: higher among footballer than controls
  • Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias: more common among footballers than controls
  • No significant differences in motor neuron disease between groups
  • Parkinson’s disease was less common among football players, possibly because they are more physically active than controls
  • Athletes, vs average people, were three times more likely to have a neurodegenerative disease listed as their cause of death

What can be done? The authors of this article hope that their data can be used to assess and manage risks in the sport.


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